ELLIOT, ROBERT MALCOLM
Remains Returned 12/27/99
|Name: Robert Malcolm Elliot
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth: 08 November 1929
Home City of Record: Springfield MA
Date of Loss: 14 February 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205400N 1055800E (WH988945)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
REMARKS: SEVERAL IRS INDICATE CAPTURE
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2018.
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Robert M. Elliot was assigned to the 34th Tactical Fighter
Squadron at Korat Airbase in southern Thailand. On Valentine's Day 1968,
Elliot was the pilot of an F105D fighter jet assigned a combat mission near
Hanoi, North Vietnam.
The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more missions
against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also suffered more
losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was constantly under
revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped with armor plate,
a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot ejection seat, a more
precise navigation system, better blind bombing capability and ECM pods for
the wings. While the D version was a single-place aircraft, the F model
carried a second crewman which made it well suited for the role of
suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses.
Eighty-six F-105Ds fitted with radar homing and warning gear formed the
backbone of the Wild Weasel program, initiated in 1965 to improve the Air
Force's electronic warfare capability. Upon pinpointing the radar at a
missile site, the Wild Weasel attacked with Shrike missiles that homed on
radar emissions. The versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25
Russian MiGs. Thirteen of these modified F's were sent to Southeast Asia in
Capt. Elliot's Thunderchief was number two in a flight of four. The flight
was to make successive runs on their target near Hanoi. As Elliot was
pulling off the target during one of his planned runs, his aircraft was hit
by hostile fire. He radioed that he was hit, but the rest of the flight did
not see any parachute or hear emergency beeper signals indicating that he
was able to eject from the aircraft. Elliot was declared Missing in Action.
The Air Force was careful not to declare Elliot dead unduly, even though no
evidence existed to indicate that he survived. Early in the war, pilots had
been declared dead because of the grim circumstances surrounding the crash
of their aircraft, only to turn up in the prison systems of North Vietnam.
Indeed, several intelligence reports were received that indicated Elliot had
been captured, although outside confirmation of this fact was apparently
Elliot is among many Americans on whom information is almost certainly held
by the Vietnamese, but the Vietnamese continue to deny knowledge of him or
of his fate. As reports mount convincing many authorities that Americans are
still alive in Southeast Asia, held captive by our long-ago enemy, one must
wonder if one of those said to be still alive is Robert Elliot. He may not
know that he has been promoted to the rank of Colonel. What must he be
thinking of us?
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS December 27, 1999
The remains of an American serviceman previously unaccounted-for from the
Vietnam War have been identified and are being returned to his family for
burial in the United States.
He is identified as Air Force Colonel Robert M. Elliot of Springfield, Mass.
On Feb. 14, 1968, Elliot was flying his F-105D Thunderchief on a strike
mission over Hanoi, North Vietnam, when he was hit by a surface-to-air
missile. He radioed to the other pilots in the flight that he had been hit
and they witnessed his crash. None of the other pilots saw any ejection
attempt nor heard any emergency beeper signals, but one reported seeing a
streaming (unopened) parachute at approximately 3,000 feet.
In April 1988, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam turned over remains to the
United States that they attributed to Elliot. Returned with those remains
was his military identification card. Then in 1992, Vietnam provided to
U.S. officials several documents related to U.S. losses during the war. One
entry was for Elliot. The description indicated that he died from his
In 1994, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese team interviewed residents of the province
where Elliot's plane crashed. They took the team to the spot where they had
buried his remains in 1968 and subsequently turned them over to their
government for repatriation to the United States.
With the accounting of Elliot, 2,031 servicemen are missing in action from
the Vietnam War. Another 552 have been identified and returned to their
families since the end of the war. Analysis of the remains and other
evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed
the identification of Elliot.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the
government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that resulted in the
accounting of this serviceman. We hope that such cooperation will bring
increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting
for these Americans is of the highest national priority. -END-
The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 29, 1999
31 YEARS LATER, HER PREMONITION IS CONFIRMED
Vanessa Parks, GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
On Valentine's Day in 1968, Billie Elliot's heart was broken.
She awoke that morning with the oddest feeling that her husband, Robert,
had come to see her, to tell her he was gone. Her daughter, Julie, was
crying, having felt it, too.....